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Cross Cultural Misunderstandings

28 July 2006

By Yisrael Ne’eman

Jews in Israel and the Shi’ite Moslem supporters of the Hezbollah have few cultural commonalities and virtually no understanding of each other’s value systems. The lack of knowledge “abyss” on the Israeli side is particularly worrying since Hezbollah sat on Israel’s northern border for more that six years planning an eventual war of destruction. Some examples below:

• Hezbollah advocates the extermination of the State of Israel and does not believe Jews have the right to a homeland or nationhood. They see Judaism as an inferior religion subservient to Islam where Jews are subjugated to “dhimmi” status, that of second class citizens suffering numerous economic and social disabilities for not accepting Islam. When Israel withdrew from the south Lebanon “security zone” in May 2000 many Israelis deluded themselves into believing that Hezbollah would be satisfied with the international boundary. They did not understand that secular state borders are of no value to the Islamists and are seen as temporary at best. Hezbollah intends to export the Iranian Khomeini Revolution by persuasion, coercion or war. Many Israelis still live in this “La La Land”.

• Hassan Nasrallah and his followers are clueless about Israel’s strengths and weaknesses. Much of their information about Israeli society comes from the super free, liberal, vociferous media in the Jewish State. Battles between Left, Right, religious, secular, rich, poor, the political echelons and all its critics are prominently displayed in the press every day to the point of revulsion. But Israel is a rancorous democracy and a Jewish one at that. Israelis spend their time arguing about everything, often in the most obnoxious and unpleasant terms. One would think we all hate each other and that the society is on the brink of collapse. But it’s the Jewish way of doing things and it is very reminiscent of a Talmudic argument where everyone gets passionate, with many assuming the other side is blind, mentally incompetent or involved in cognitive dissonance. (And let’s face it, many of us just like to argue for the sport of it.) But when it is all over, Israelis are still “their brother’s keepers” no matter how angry they may be with each other. Our freedom of speech, press, assembly, religion or lack of it, is our strength. Ultimate loyalty among Israelis is to the system with all its faults, and not to any one leader. Nasrallah is just one more despot who misinterpreted the resolve of a democratic society.

• The Jewish People believe in the sanctity of life, not death. Israel’s Achilles Heel is its sensitivity to casualties, civilian and military. Israel is willing to trade hundreds of terrorists for a few IDF soldiers, a clear indication that quality of life ranks high in the Jewish value system as well. Jews do not value dying on the battlefield and would prefer to live. Everyone dies eventually, but it is most important to make a contribution to one’s society on earth beforehand. Hezbollah encourages their terrorists to be “shahids” or martyrs for the cause, willing to make the ultimate sacrifice and gain the rewards of 72 virgins and other heavenly delights. Hezbollah uses Lebanese civilians as human shields for their missiles, launchers, arms, ammunition and bunkers inside the villages they control (and for their sacrifice, they too are awarded “shahid” status). Israel does not blanket bomb for fear of civilian casualties and therefore the battle of Bint J’bail is still not finished after four days. Israelis battle for a fulfilled life in this world, Hezbollah for death and its rewards in the next.

• The Jewish State recognizes the right of the Lebanese to their state and would like the gesture to be mutual. Hezbollah recognizes no rights of any state, unless it be Iranian style Khomeinist. And this is only one step towards world domination.

• Israel and the world Jewish community mistakenly believe Hezbollah and the Khomeinists can be deterred. They can only be contained until destroyed, and yes, that means Iran in the end. Nasrallah believed the Israeli home front, or civilian sector would easily collapse under the continuing rocket attacks (over 100 every day). It did not and will not, despite criticisms of the war by a certain small minority. The Jewish People and Israeli democracy will endure, despite all its flaws.

The “Hezbollah War” is not about land, national rights or even religion for that matter, but rather it is a clash of two value systems and world views. The final result of this war must be an Israeli victory signaling the beginning of the end of the Khomeinist fascio-Islamic aberration which has taken deep root in Moslem society world wide. If not, the world and especially the West are in for a very bloody future.